N: Immediate sherbertiness (if that's a word) - lemony. Then some tinned fruit salad, sugar syrup, sawdust and peach melba. The peat remains in the background as the nose develops green apples and barley sugar, then comes forward: coal smoke & woodsmoke, very nice. With time, the nose becomes more peppery, with not unpleasant hints of tweed and old floorboards, like an ageing relative's attic. But the real thing is the sherbert: it's almost as if the whisky is effervescent - you can't help half-expecting it to fizz up your nose...
P: A big coal hit, then the spices come rushing in - yowser! Very warming, the bonfire notes are here again, but accompanied by some exotic fruit. Then it's the turn of the coal - this is a smouldering, intense, complex whisky. It's also delicious.
F: As the smoke and spice roar on, the finish becomes slightly drying, with dusty oak, honey and...is that peach yoghurt? Whatever. This is going down a treat.
Comment: A great end to the 'Young' series. Ardbeg call it the 'path to peaty maturity', but whatever you want to call it, it's been a great trip. And this stuff is brilliant. Bodes very well for the widely-anticipated new batch of 10 year-old.
Aroma: Leap into this Ardbeg with a blast of peat soaked in vibrant tropical juices. Toasted vanilla and sizzling cinnamon escape into the atmosphere with sherbet space dust and smooth Swiss chocolate spheres. Wispy creamy malt brings a light frothiness, softening the effervescent fruits and sizzling spices as they continue to erupt from the inner peaty core.
Add water and observe the aromas accelerate and explode.
Juicy melons, pineapple chunks and lime jus bring sparkling zest and vitality as they fizz from the glass, released against a background of musky scented peat with clouds of jasmine and violets. Fresh summer blackberries and redcurrants bring a rich fruity display before a shockwave of camphor and menthol freshens and cools the air with bursts of aniseed and spiced rum. In the background, the smoky remnants of a fireworks display linger and dissipate.
Taste: The effect of the full ten-year-old maturation explodes on the tongue. An explosive crackle of peat sizzles and pops setting off a chain reaction of flavour explosions: cinnamon-spiced toffee and smoked chocolate limes fuse on the tongue; warm toasted bananas and bitter almonds meld together; ginger-spiced apples and pears soak into the palate; Seville orange crystals in marmalade bring a zingy bite.
As the fizzy explosions reduce to a sizzle, smoke from the explosions builds up; developing into a smoke house filled with freshly ground dark espresso coffee, sticks of liquorice root and a bowlful of sugared almonds, coating the palate with chewy peat oils.
Finish: The taste goes on and on leaving a smoky jet stream of simmering peat oils, wispy vanilla cream and chewy liquorice whirls.